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Columbus, Ohio, to celebrate 'Air Force Heritage Week'

Columbus, Ohio has been selected to play host to Air Force Heritage Week in late September in conjunction with The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends being held at Rickenbacker International Airport Sept. 27-30. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Mike Carabajal)

Columbus, Ohio has been selected to play host to Air Force Heritage Week in late September in conjunction with The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends being held at Rickenbacker International Airport Sept. 27-30. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Mike Carabajal)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AFNEWS) -- Reaffirming its commitment to the commemoration of 60 years of air and space power, the United States Air Force announced Feb. 23 that Columbus, Ohio, has been selected as host for the nation's only Air Force Heritage Week in conjunction with The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends in September 2007.

"Air Force Heritage Week will give the citizens of the area the opportunity to pause and remember the talented, dedicated, professional Airmen serving around the world, day and night, to keep America safe," said Lt. Gen. Terry Gabreski the vice commander of Air Force Material Command.

General Gabreski joined Lee Lauderback, President of Stallion 51 and organizer of The Gathering of Mustangs, Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks and Rod Borden, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority on stage at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus for the announcement on Friday.

"My charge to the citizens of Ohio and around the United States is to find your way to Columbus the last week of September for Air Force Heritage Week and The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends," General Gabreski said. "You owe it to yourselves to see them fly, you owe it to yourselves to hear their stories, you owe it to them to listen."

General Gabreski spoke about the role Air Force heritage played in her own life as the daughter of retired Brig. Gen. Alonzo Walter, who flew F-86 Sabre missions in Korea. She also talked about her father-in-law, the legendary flying Ace, retired Col. Francis "Gabby" Gabreski.

The announcement also included narrated flyovers of two P-51 Mustangs and two F-16's from the Ohio National Guard. At the conclusion of the announcement, Gen. Gabreski presented Lee Lauderback with a copy of the official letter from Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, declaring the gathering as an official Air Force Heritage Week.

Quoting Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, the Air Force legend and namesake for the Columbus Airport to play host to the gathering, General Moseley's letter stated, "Aviation is proof that given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible."

The Gathering of Mustangs of Legends will unite Airmen and aviation enthusiasts of the past and present, bringing together Air Force legends like retired Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager and historic planes, including a flyover of at least 51 P-51 Mustangs, for a week in September. Now partnered with the Air Force, the gathering will also feature senior Air Force leaders speaking at events, flight demonstrations, ground displays, and a show by the Air Force's elite demonstration team, the Thunderbirds.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. Throughout this historic year, the Air Force is commemorating 60 years of air and space power through events such as The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends.

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